When I saw the trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road, I was extremely excited. A film attempting to bring such insane action sequences to life without special effects is a truly courageous undertaking in modern cinema. So I decided to watch the entire original trilogy to catch up on the series, and I was pleasantly surprised. George Miller took a gritty action film and created a stylized post-apocalypse universe that stretched into a trilogy that reminded me of Star Wars at times. But it boasts some of best driving sequences on film and casts too colourful to forget. So in anticipation, I’ve written a mini-review of the original trilogy. This is a series worth revisiting for those who will be seeing it for the first time with the amazing Tom Hardy (watch Bronson), and has me eagerly excited to see Fury Road.
Mad Max is a much different film from the rest of the trilogy, it’s a dark revenge story seemingly set in a future dystopia before Road Warrior clears things up. The movie opens on a blistering 10-minute car chase sequence that cleverly sets up the characters, tone, and world without any exposition. The villains of this flick are one of the most animated I’ve seen, with a roaming biker gang sporting more distinctive flare and lunacy than the Gathering of The Juggalos. Featuring the unpredictable Toecutter, whose Joker-esque anarchy keeps thing tense. The action sequences in this film are intense, and the Mel Gibson delivers an amazing performance, on par with his work in Braveheart. If you can enjoy the Aussie dialect, and ignore some of the corny music and edits, this movie will blow you away.
The Road Warrior
Now came the sequel that defined the series, The Road Warrior. Taking everything from the original movie and turning it up to 11, this sequel went all-in. This film features the best stunts of the series, with amazing chases and the biggest explosion in Australian cinema at the time. The gang from the first film seems tame compared to the gang of lead-villain Humungus, who feels like Bane at times on his own. The apocalypse is in full effect in this flick, where survival and gasoline have become synonymous. Every character is engrossing in their own right with the gyrocopter pilot running with his supporting role. The film is the high point in the series, with so many iconic moments, and action sequences that look like they could’ve killed the people involved. If you watch one film in this series, make it this one.
Now it should be noted this film is generally considered to be a harsh misstep for the series, but it doesn’t come without a lot of merit. The original finale of the franchise has an amazing 45 minutes of film that maintain the tone of the original movies, and a final 20 minutes that land right back. But the film also has a very Americanized section in the middle involving children and a Lord Of The Flies-like scenario. While this section proves hard to get through the rest of the film is well worth the price of admission. The evil Master Blaster is one of the cooler villains in the series, overshadowing a forgettable Tina Turner, and the city of Bartertown really feels alive. The iconic scenes in the early section of the film are also worth noting with Thunderdome and Max hitting a security checkpoint. The ending chase sequence is a toned down version of Road Warrior’s ending, and the ending sequence is surprisingly dark considering the more kid-friendly nature of this film. Unfortunately the children section of the film did for me what Ewoks did for many Star Wars fans, and this act drags horribly, with the child actors really hurting the film.
The Mad Max series is an innovative action series that has some of the best car-based action sequences ever committed to film, and their practical effects still hold up. If Fury Road takes the practical spirit to heart, I can only imagine how chaotically beautiful it will be.